Last held public office: Speaker of the House of Representatives, 1995-99
Newt Gingrich is one of the best known and most experienced contenders in the Republican field. The architect of 1994's Republican revolution, which saw House Democrats cede their 40-year majority to the GOP, Gingrich has a reputation as his party's grand-ideas man. Since leaving the House in 1998, Gingrich has turned those ideas into a flourishing enterprise: speaking, consulting, writing books and perennially flirting with a presidential bid.
Gingrich's past, professional and personal, presents a serious impediment to his potential as a presidential candidate. As Speaker of the House, he lost many battles against President Bill Clinton in the arena of public opinion, and he ended his career on the Hill as a divisive and largely unpopular leader. His three marriages, two divorces and admissions of infidelity have tarnished Gingrich's reputation with some sections of the conservative base, and his penchant for bombast can be off-putting to moderates.
It's far from Gingrich's first time around the presidential-speculation circuit, but with his traveling and fundraising at full tilt, Gingrich appears to be closer to launching a bid now than he was in years prior. It would be difficult for Gingrich to overcome his checkered history, but Republican voters know him well, and no one has been a harsher critic of the Obama Administration.
Representative quote: "Our elites are wrong on the basic values that define America. Our elites are wrong on the way in which you create jobs and have economic growth. Our elites are wrong in national security and what threatens America."
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